By all intents and purposes, the Mark Sanchez era is over for the New York Jets. That means that, moving forward, Gang Green will be relying on rookie Geno Smith to handle the quarterbacking duties.
Smith got the nod this past Sunday with Sanchez nursing a shoulder injury, and was a mixed bag in his NFL debut.
Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith completed 24 of his 38 passes for 256 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one fumble lost. He also picked up a team-high 47 rushing yards on six attempts.
While he proved to be a much more dynamic quarterback than Sanchez ever could be, Smith struggled to consistently make smart decisions in the pocket. He took five sacks, including one where he ran backward before being brought down. His interception came after throwing a hurried pass to a receiver who wasn’t ready for the ball.
Even though he struggled in some aspects, Smith also showed some promising signs.
The West Virginia product displayed more accuracy than Sanchez, completing 63.1 percent of his passes and delivering the ball with confidence. Evidenced by his production on the ground, Smith is capable of making plays with his feet. He took advantage of the minimal talent the Jets currently have to offer, and discovered some chemistry with tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.
Despite his lack of consistency in his first NFL start, Smith has given the Jets all the more reason to sever ties with Sanchez. He led the New York offense to a 18-17 victory against a stout Tampa Bay defense and never seemed to lose his composure. The Jets couldn’t have asked for much more from the rookie.
If he can continue to improve as the 2013 season rolls along, Smith could soon develop into the quarterback the Jets need to compete.
Final Week 1 Grade: B-